Does Wildborn Preserver Make Simic Flash A Tier 1 Deck In Throne of Eldraine Standard?

Simic Flash has been sitting just outside top-tier in Core Set 2020 Standard. With the help of a new addition from Throne of Eldraine, Patrick Chapin thinks it might just be the next great deck!

From the moment players started figuring out how to use Nightpack Ambusher
and Brineborn Cutthroat, Simic Flash has been a thing.

In the previous Standard format, there was a lot of stiff competition; and
sometimes, the lack of removal really caught up to the Simic decks. With
the rotation, Simic has benefited from a lot of addition by subtraction;
but the archetype always received a tremendous boon in the form of Wildborn

Wildborn Preserver looks like a quality card, straight up; but when used in
a Simic Flash deck, there are some monstrous implications.

At a baseline, we’re starting with a Skylasher that doesn’t have the
uncounterable/pro-blue stuff.

Wildborn Preserver does have good types, but the real win comes from its
phenomenal ability. Having the option to pump as much mana as you like into
+1/+1 counters is a fantastic way to spend extra mana productively, whether
a mana here and there in the mid-game, or huge chunks in the late-game,
making an unstoppable threat.

Non-humans only, eh?

Ok, well, that kind of limits its applications in white decks; but at the
moment, the vast majority of tournament caliber creatures are non-human,

While Wildborn Preserver is efficient enough to potentially find
roleplaying jobs in a variety of decks, it really shines in Simic Flash, on
account of just how well it works with Flash creatures. Obviously, it has
Flash, itself, so it’s already on plan. The ability to pump it with other
Flash creatures, however, makes the card take on a powerful new dimension.

Spectral Sailor can now be played as an x-spell, giving the Preserver +X/+X
in the middle of combat, or in response to a burn spell. What’s more, the
typical opportunity cost of Wildborn Preserver tapping you out, is
mitigated by it taking place in response to your opponent’s action, or
perhaps, during their end step.

The loss of Hinterland Harbor isn’t that big a deal, as everyone lost
fixing, and Simic didn’t need as much as they had. A lot of builds didn’t
even play Swift Warden, so no biggie there. The loss of Merfolk Trickster,
on the other hand, is definitely felt; however, getting to change your
Tricksters into Wildborn Preservers looks like an upgrade, to me.

As for Essence Scatter?

Yeah, Essence Capture is a little less reliable, given its more restrictive
cost. Still, we are getting a +1/+1 counter out of the deal, and we’ve
actually picked up a couple reasonable new options worth trying out. And
it’s a good thing, too, because the loss of Syncopate stings a little.

For starters, we can always play a little more Essence Capture/Negate
action, if we really want, so it’s not like we’re actually boxed into a
corner, on two-cost permission. This is convenient, as there are a couple
of three-cost options I think warrant a closer look.

For 2U, we usually get “Counter target spell unless its controller pays 4”,
frequently, with some minor upside. Mystical Dispute is, instead, an
overcosted Mana Leak (though admittedly, Mana Leak is a slightly
undercosted Mana Leak).

Another way to think of Mystical Dispute is that it’s a Mana Leak, but you
get to under-pay against blue spells, in exchange for overpaying against
non-blue spells. In the abstract, this isn’t the best exchange to make;
however, it’s not like Mana Leak is an option in Throne of Eldraine Standard, and besides, whenever blue is doing
well, this card is just fantastic. To that end, even if we don’t maindeck
it, we should really be considering sideboarding some. It seems better than
Gainsay, to me.

Mana Leak for one mana is already better than a counterspell for two, and
the ability to actually counter non-blue spells, is not a trivial addition.

The other attractive new counterspell option is Hypnotic Sprite. For 2U,
you get to counter a spell that costs three or less, plus draw a “card”
(and that card is a UU 2/1 flier…)

A counterspell that costs UU and counters a spell that costs three or less
would be strong, I suspect. This isn’t even a full mana more than that, but
the extra material we get is worth something. It’s not like a 2/1 flier for
two is a bad deal, or anything.

If Mesmeric Glare was “2U Counter target spell that costs 3 or less. Draw a
card.”, it would be completely busted. How much less than “a card” is a 2/1
flier for two really worth, though?

Would you play, “2U Counter target spell that costs 3 or less. Draw a card,
then discard a card.”? You might think about it in some spots, no? Looting
is generally worth roughly half a card, though that value fluctuates
wildly, on account of graveyard synergies.

Is a 2/1 flier for two worth more than half a card? I think so. I mean,
just consider a flashback spell that was UU Play a 2/1 Flyer. Flashback UU.

Such a card would be comparable to Lingering Souls. I think by any
reasonable estimate, a 2/1 flyer for two is worth more than half a card, in
the abstract. What about in Simic Flash, however?

For starters, the 2/1 flier costing double blue isn’t a big deal. After
all, it sits in your exile waiting for whenever you want to pull the
trigger. Besides, usually, by your fourth turn, you’re gonna be a massive
favorite to have double blue, particularly if you’re supporting Essence

Setting your mana base up for Essence Capture, anyways, means playing the
2/1 out on Turn 2 is a real option. Once on the battlefield, it’s not just
a 2/1 flyer, though. Opponents that would try to delay you with a Teferi,
Time Raveler, are gonna get punished if they try to bounce this one.
Besides, Simic Flash decks usually play their own bounce, like Unsummon,
letting us bounce it in response to a key three-cost threat.

Hypnotic Sprite’s 2/1 for two beatdown plan would be even more appreciated
in some kind of a mono-blue skies deck; however, with Tempest Djinn,
Curious Obsession, Siren Stormtamer, Spell Pierce, Dive Down, and Wizard’s
Retort all rotating, that archetype has been completely blown up.

In Simic, tapping out for a two-drop isn’t usually going to be
veryattractive; but the low-cost is actually pretty good with Wildborn
Preserver. If we’re not casting the two-drop until Turn 4 or later, anyway,
having extra mana available to pump the Preserver is great. That said, it
does have one major weakness, of course. Unlike every other creature in the
deck, Hypnotic Sprite doesn’t have flash. We’re not always going to be
willing to tap out to pump our Preserver the maximum, anyways.

With all of that in mind, here’s what I’m thinking:

I want to start with at least one of each, among Hypnotic Sprite and
Mystical Dispute, just gaining info on how they each perform. Depending on
how the meta shakes out, I could easily imagine going way up on one of them
or cutting them completely. Negate, Sinister Sabotage, Essence Capture, and
Growth Spiral are all super negotiable.

While previous lists didn’t play Growth Spiral, I think that was largely
because of just how fast the format was (meaning no time to take the second
turn off this way), and just how many good two-mana permission spells were

Now that we don’t have Syncopate, Growth Spiral gives us something to do on
Turn 2. It’s especially attractive with Mystical Dispute, by the way. I
could easily imagine wanting to play an Island in response to an opposing
spell, followed by Mystical Disputing the spell with that Island. This play
is so enticing, if I had to register for an event today, I’d just use two
Mystical Disputes and zero Sprites. Still, I think a mix is a better
starting spot, in order to learn more.

Growth Spiral is obviously another instant that can give Brineborn
Cutthroat a +1/+1 counter; and a Turn 3 Nightpack Ambusher is nothing to
sneeze at. I’m not using any here; but if something else was previewed that
encouraged us to Faerie Vandal, Growth Spiral would be a useful enabler, to
go alongside Opt and Spectral Sailor.

Faerie Vandal does have Flash, of course, so point in its favor, there.
Still, you’ve got to work so much harder to make it grow. It’s also not
like a 1/2 flyer, nor a 2/3 flyer are particularly efficient distributions
of stats, at the moment. With Goblin Chainwhirler out of the format, a 2/1
flyer for two is generally a lot more appealing than a 1/2 flyer for two.

If we were going to Faerie Vandal, Winged Words would probably be a key
player in whatever variant we ended up brewing, down that path.

While Maraleak Pixie clashes with the whole “flash” aspect of the deck,
it’s an important card to keep in mind, as it kind of speaks to some of the
opportunity cost we’re paying by trying to be a flash deck, in the first
place. Depending on how things break, the best way to build Simic could be
ramp or a fast tap-out aggro deck. In both cases, Manaleak Pixie is a fine

I like this card a fair bit, but I’m not sure we can really play it and
Essence Capture in the same deck. The mana is just too hard. Relying on
Temple of Mystery for green is rough for the Goose, anyway, since it’s kind
of a loose Turn 2 play.

If we’re not in for a Cloudkin Seer, there’s no way we’re interested in a
1/1 version. There’d have to be some pretty intense Faerie payoffs to get
us talking about such a play.

Like Manaleaf Pixie, Risen Reef is just a full-on embracing of tap-out or
ramp. Good card. This isn’t the place for it.

I think Once Upon a Time is one of the most overrated cards in the set. The
opportunity cost is likely to be deceptively high, since drawing them
anytime but your opener means paying a tax; and even if drawn in your
starting hand, the second copy still costs retail.

Still, that is a fair bit of selection, and it is an instant. I’m kind of
tempted to try one, here, particularly with how well it could fix our mana
if we’re trying to support Essence Capture. Many of our creatures are among
the best cards in our deck; but the one thing holding me back is having to
reveal the card. Whether we’re finding a Frilled Mystic, a Nightpack
Ambusher, a Hypnotic Sprite, or whatever, revealing it really cuts out a
lot of the punch.

If we absolutely had to put more manipulation in, I guess we could play
Anticipate; but I don’t know why we’d necessarily be looking for more
two-cost manipulation in the first place. We probably want to be as
tempo-oriented as we can; and we only get away with Opt and Temple of
Mystery because we don’t play many one-drops (and out of necessity).

Speaking of one-drops, if we decided we needed more fixing, I’d actually be
more inclined to try Witching Well than Anticipate. It’s the right kind of
smoothing early, and it gives us something else productive to do when we’re
holding up Frilled Mystic mana. I’m a lot more interested in something like
this in Simic Flash than say, Chemister’s Insight. Chemister’s Insight is
another four-cost card in a deck already tight on fours. Witching Well
isn’t as high impact, but it helps the weakest spot on our curve, instead
of competing with our strongest. If we moved away from Growth Spiral, I’d
definitely want to try a couple of these.

If Runaway Together was either/or instead of needing both targets, I think
you could make a good case for trying it in Simic Flash. It’d be kind of
sweet to bounce our Frilled Mystic or Hypnotic Sprite. As it stands,
however, I think it’s just too conditional. Besides, it’s not actually the
smoothest at bouncing Wildborn Preserver or Brineborn Cutthroat, since we
lose out on all the +1/+1 counters we had.

Far too tap out of a card for our maindeck, I think it’s unlikely that
Stolen by the Fae makes the cut in our sideboard, either. We’ve got such
good options, we’re mainly going to be looking for extremely mana efficient
plays or potent new dimensions. Stolen by the Fae is merely a “value” card
that probably only makes sense in some sort of a tokens deck.

While two mana is a better rate than we usually see on this kind of a card,
the sorcery speed and vulnerability to enchantment removal probably rules
this one out. It could be a nice sideboard card, but with cards like
Unravel the Aether, we’re probably going to be able to fill those needs
with more specific and effective answers.

This might seem like a joke, but I kind of think Turn into a Pumpkin is a
sleeper role-player. I don’t think Simic Flash is likely to be the best
home for it, but I think the card will play a minor role, somewhere. Think
about it like this; for four-mana, you’re getting an easier to cast Blink
of an Eye.

It doesn’t have the option to play it for two, but if you can play it for
1UUU, you’ll get a Food token out of the deal. The bar isn’t high, but this
is one of the best life gain cards blue has ever gotten. Besides, if you’ve
got actual Food or artifact synergies, this could be just what the doctor

If enough flyers get played and we value the life gain against them, Fell
the Pheasant is a totally reasonable option. I don’t see much evidence that
we’re in that metagame, at least not yet.

Questing Beast is a pretty audacious card, and I think it’s gonna find
plenty of homes; but I’m not overly drawn towards putting it in here. As a
maindeck option, it’s obviously a tap-out card, and I think it’s best
suited to an aggressive strategy. Besides, we’re long on four-drops,

As a sideboard card, I think it can make for a fantastic transformational
plan. It’s the kind of card a control deck could sideboard in, like Lyra
Dawnbringer was, that could single-handedly take over a game against an
opponent that likely doesn’t have much removal in their deck, after
sideboarding. Simic Flash is so long on creatures, anyway, and almost all
of them are must-kill for control decks, or else they can just take over.

Wicked Wolf, on the other hand, is an appealing sideboard card, right out
the gate. It’s not as good as it would be if we had more Food cards, like
Gilded Goose, or whatever. Still, just a 3/3 for four that fights something
when it enters the battlefield is a quality distribution of material, to
say nothing of the synergy with Nightpack Ambusher. That said, if we can’t
produce Food, we might just go back to Voracious Hydra.

On the other hand, it might not take much sideboard Oko action to move the
needle on Wicked Wolf.

Oko, Thief of Crowns is an implied three life a turn, which is just
backbreaking against certain aggressive decks. It’s also an invaluable
amount of flexibility against problematic artifacts and creatures. I think
it’s gonna be a centerpiece of some sweet decks, but it’s also believable
as a niche sideboard option, I think, particularly when you’re playing a
strategy limited with regards to reactive options.

If we’re specifically looking for life gain, there is nothing wrong with
considering a Pulse of Murasa. It’s an underrated card that should probably
see more play as a one-of in random spots.

Way too tap-out of a card for Simic Flash. I guess you could potentially
sideboard one as a haymaker that can totally take over late games; however,
I’m not sure that’s really the dimension this strategy needs. It’s not like
we can even make that good of use of the Braingeyser, on account of our
lack of removal.

Instead, I think Gadwick belongs in some kind of control deck, or in a
Simic ramp deck fueling it with Nissa, Who Shakes the World.

That, I could be into. It’s just a different deck than Simic Flash, is all.

Likewise, The Magic Mirror is another sweet card advantage engine
build-around that doesn’t really fit in Simic Flash. We’ve just got too
many creatures and not enough sorceries and instants going to our
graveyard, nor ability to really stretch the game out.

While I’m super interested in Wildborn Preserver and Simic Flash (or Sultai
Flash, or whatever), The Magic Mirror is definitely one of the most
eye-popping cards in Throne of Eldraine, too.

While I initially considered Izzet or Jeskai for The Magic Mirror, the
presence of powerful, reliable endgames like Niv-Mizzet, Parun and
Expansion//Explosion lessen the need for such a blunt instrument.

Instead, I ended up turning to:

The Magic Mirror isn’t optional, so you’ve got to be careful not to deck
yourself. That said, a second copy can legend rule the first, when it gets
a little out of hand. I don’t know that we even need the Turn into a
Pumpkin, to get us out of things, but something like this seems like a nice
option, even if just ends up being Callous Dismissal or Flood of Tears.

We’ve also got Murderous Rider to help avoid getting decked, thanks to its
ability to die to the bottom of your deck, if things get a little hectic.

Murderous Rider doesn’t actually count as instant in your graveyard; but
it’s just so outrageously powerful, I wouldn’t sweat it.

It was already good, but the life loss from Murderous Rider and the
self-mill powering The Magic Mirror makes Enter the God-Eternals stellar.

And finally…

If we’re gonna go to all the trouble of decking ourselves, we might as well
get paid!